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Harming whom?
Do stories about sex harm anyone?

June 7, 2001
The Iranian

I got an email the other day about why the publication of Nooneh's material is unacceptable. According to the the author, my logic -- "don't read it if you don't like it" -- does not hold water; it is weak. So in an attempt to strengthen my logic, I have decided to publicly break down the issue.

I figure the issue is that somehow and to some people, the publication of sexually explicit material in iranian.com is offensive. The offense must come from the ability of such material to do harm or else, why the objection if it is neutral or beneficial?

Three groups of people can be harmed by this: The publisher, the writer, the readers.

The Publisher

As most of you know, iranian.com is put out through the efforts of its publisher. The process is rather simple: People write, he puts it on the site. He's rather conscientious about how often he features people and the variety of subjects. Free speech seems to be his one and only concern, thus the subtitle of the website: Nothing is sacred.

I imagine if the one person who is doing all the work thinks Free Speech is the ultimate goal, then NOT running a piece he thinks is worthy of publication will ultimately cause harm to him.

The Writer

The writer of these pieces, who seems to be an Iranian female, obviously has already protected herself from harm: She's writing under a pen name. Since we do not know her, nor her address, nor probably any of the people she's had sex with, then I do not see where the harm to her comes from.

You may say that sleeping with all these people may harm her (though as far as we know, she's only slept with four up to now and we do not want to pre-judge people). That may be the case. But if so, the harm's been done: She's writing after the fact.

Additionally, one can assume that these writings have had a therapeutic effect on her, not to mention the fact that running them on this web site has opened her eyes to the variety of opinions out there on her lifestyle. One can only conclude that these stories have had a positive effect on on her.

The Reader

Now I am going to take a wild guess and say this is where most of the objection comes from. To simplify the task at hand, I will divide the readers' concerns into two sections: Concern for children, concern for adults.

Let's start with the latter. What do you do in order to get to iranian.com? You may receive daily or weekly listing of topics, in which case, in order to get to a specific article, you need to open YOUR email, then click on the CHOSEN website. You may not get daily/weekly email, in which case you need to open your browser, type iranian.com and go through a series of pages before you get to the page with little summaries of articles after which you need to click on your CHOSEN web page.

So my question is this: Why is it that if you are so offended by Nooneh, you have patiently flipped all these pages to get to her stories AND read them? You should be ashamed of yourself reading material you take offense to. I personally dislike, let's say, beastiality pornography and believe me, no matter how many times I get an email inviting me to such a website, I won't go there. If you go because you are curious, you may want to examine the source of your curiosity before you raise your blood pressure.

As for children: Let's say you're a perfectly normal child and you are curious about the smut available in this world. You

A) Go through the trouble I mentioned above, get to Nooneh's articles, and actually read (READ) through a lengthy piece that is punctuated by long expositions on the Iranian New Year traditions, her feelings of hurt and sorrow over losing a lover, drinking Chianti with chicken and potatoes, and how she likes to dance.

B) You open your browser and go straight to the infinite number of porn sites available to anyone who has motion left in just ONE of their fingers. And geez, they are all PICTURES. No need to read a word (maybe except to pick something closer to your taste/curiosity).

If you picked option A, you were a precocious kid and as such, harmed already by your inability to act your age. Most likely even if you hate to acknowledge it, you picked B, in which case, I with even my weak logic, can not see how Nooneh can harm you.

So next time I hear someone is offended by iranian.com running a sexually explicit piece, I know that I am going to smile, knowing just exactly what THEY'VE been up to.


Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment for the writer Naghmeh Sohrabi


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